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Re: .htaccess a major bottleneck to Semantic Web adoption / Was: Re: RDFa vs RDF/XML and content negotiation

From: John Graybeal <graybeal@mbari.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 11:22:51 -0700
Cc: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, bill.roberts@planet.nl, public-lod@w3.org, semantic-web at W3C <semantic-web@w3c.org>
Message-Id: <9E093E61-6800-4451-9282-1067BBC9BD33@mbari.org>
To: martin.hepp@ebusiness-unibw.org
This is a principal reason MMI decided to offer a vocabulary server  
for its community. The idea that 1000 different providers would all  
develop a level of web competency (for which there is evidence at only  
a minority of providers) for serving their RDF and OWL content -- let  
alone the capability to do versioning, adopt best practices, learn  
SKOS, and whatever other nuances are called for -- seemed like a non- 
starter.

This is not exactly the same problem you're facing, but something to  
consider (if the model allows it) is creating a way to serve the  
annotations from another place than the host institution.  The  
institution can refer to those served files from their own sites, and  
even update them remotely, but not have to incur all the management  
overhead as standards improve, files change, authorship changes, etc.

(Which is not to disagree with your plan either. That sounds fine.)

One other delivery model could be for them to give you an existing  
HTML, you give them back the modified HTML (saves them cutting and  
pasting steps?).

I'm a little ignorant on your tools and processes, so apologies if  
these are non-starters.

John


On Jun 25, 2009, at 9:44 AM, Martin Hepp (UniBW) wrote:

> Hi all:
>
> After about two months of helping people generate RDF/XML metadata  
> for their businesses using the GoodRelations annotator [1],
> I have quite some evidence that the current best practices of  
> using .htaccess are a MAJOR bottleneck for the adoption of Semantic  
> Web technology.
>
> Just some data:
> - We have several hundred entries in the annotator log - most people  
> spend 10 or more minutes to create a reasonable description of  
> themselves.
> - Even though they all operate some sort of Web sites, less than 30  
> % of them manage to upload/publish a single *.rdf file in their root  
> directory.
> - Of those 30%, only a fraction manage to set up content negotiation  
> properly, even though we provide a step-by-step recipe.
>
> The effects are
> - URIs that are not dereferencable,
> - incorrect media types and
> and other problems.
>
> When investigating the causes and trying to help people, we  
> encountered a variety of configurations and causes that we did not  
> expect. It turned out that helping people just managing this tiny  
> step of publishing  Semantic Web data would turn into a full-time  
> job for 1 - 2 administrators.
>
> Typical causes of problems are
> - Lack of privileges for .htaccess (many cheap hosting packages give  
> limited or no access to .htaccess)
> - Users without Unix background had trouble name a file so that it  
> begins with a dot
> - Microsoft IIS require completely different recipes
> - Many users have access just at a CMS level
>
> Bottomline:
> - For researchers in the field, it is a doable task to set up an  
> Apache server so that it serves RDF content according to current  
> best practices.
> - For most people out there in reality, this is regularly a  
> prohibitively difficult task, both because of a lack of skills and a  
> variety in the technical environments that turns into an engineering  
> challenge what is easy on the textbook-level.
>
> As a consequence, we will modify our tool so that it generates  
> "dummy" RDFa code with span/div that *just* represents the meta-data  
> without interfering with the presentation layer.
> That can then be inserted as code snippets via copy-and-paste to any  
> XHTML document.
>
> Any opinions?
>
> Best
> Martin
>
> [1]  http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/tools/goodrelations-annotator/
>
> Danny Ayers wrote:
>> Thank you for the excellent questions, Bill.
>>
>> Right now IMHO the best bet is probably just to pick whichever format
>> you are most comfortable with (yup "it depends") and use that as the
>> single source, transforming perhaps with scripts to generate the
>> alternate representations for conneg.
>>
>> As far as I'm aware we don't yet have an easy templating engine for
>> RDFa, so I suspect having that as the source is probably a good  
>> choice
>> for typical Web applications.
>>
>> As mentioned already GRDDL is available for transforming on the fly,
>> though I'm not sure of the level of client engine support at present.
>> Ditto providing a SPARQL endpoint is another way of maximising the
>> surface area of the data.
>>
>> But the key step has clearly been taken, that decision to publish  
>> data
>> directly without needing the human element to interpret it.
>>
>> I claim *win* for the Semantic Web, even if it'll still be a few  
>> years
>> before we see applications exploiting it in a way that provides real
>> benefit for the end user.
>>
>> my 2 cents.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Danny.
>>
>>
>>
>
> -- 
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> martin hepp
> e-business & web science research group
> universitaet der bundeswehr muenchen
>
> e-mail:  mhepp@computer.org
> phone:   +49-(0)89-6004-4217
> fax:     +49-(0)89-6004-4620
> www:     http://www.unibw.de/ebusiness/ (group)
>        http://www.heppnetz.de/ (personal)
> skype:   mfhepp twitter: mfhepp
>
> Check out the GoodRelations vocabulary for E-Commerce on the Web of  
> Data!
> = 
> = 
> ======================================================================
>
> Webcast:
> http://www.heppnetz.de/projects/goodrelations/webcast/
>
> Talk at the Semantic Technology Conference 2009: "Semantic Web-based  
> E-Commerce: The GoodRelations Ontology"
> http://tinyurl.com/semtech-hepp
>
> Tool for registering your business:
> http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/tools/goodrelations-annotator/
>
> Overview article on Semantic Universe:
> http://tinyurl.com/goodrelations-universe
>
> Project page and resources for developers:
> http://purl.org/goodrelations/
>
> Tutorial materials:
> Tutorial at ESWC 2009: The Web of Data for E-Commerce in One Day: A  
> Hands-on Introduction to the GoodRelations Ontology, RDFa, and  
> Yahoo! SearchMonkey
>
> http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/wiki/GoodRelations_Tutorial_ESWC2009
>
>
>
>
> <martin_hepp.vcf>


John

--------------
John Graybeal   <mailto:graybeal@mbari.org>  -- 831-775-1956
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Metadata Interoperability Project: http://marinemetadata.org
Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 18:23:48 UTC

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